Category Archives: Behavior

Smiles

I will write a happy, fun moment in time. Lord knows we all need one. Some moments are especially sweet precisely because of the bittersweet swirling around us.

I pulled into the convenience store near the interstate. Two boys were wheeling around on bicycles, happy and carefree as young boys often are, when they have freedom and mobility. You don’t see boys like that galavanting like you once did, especially on bikes.

I went in to get a soda and watched as the boys excitedly decided what to buy with their precious dollars. When I went to pay they were behind me.

I received my change and turned and handed one of the boys a $5 bill. “Don’t take money from strangers!” I said. All of us laughed, even the clerk. The boys’ faces lit up as they realized they could buy additional unexpected bounty.

It cost me $5 to make us all smile.

I waited outside in my car to watch as the boys exited.

Smiles.

Everywhere!

Love, X
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Firefly Tuesday

If you climb a tree way before the sun rises, sometimes a magical moment happens. The dormant fireflies that believed their night of intermittent luminescence was finished… they will take flight as the jostling and vibration startles them into motion – especially if you shake your cell phone to cause it to flash. For anyone who has never thought of this or carefully ascended a tree in the dark, it’s one of those childhood moments that never fails to delight. And if it does ever fail to cause my lips to curl upward in a smile, I will climb to the very top with abandon and launch myself to the bottom.

The images from yesterday, the ones that reached back billions of years, they were beautiful. But there are things hidden in plain sight all around you. Sometimes you just have to look or be willing to do something different to see them. Close your eyes for a moment and then open them. There will be something fascinating around you. If you want there to be.

PS It’s pointless to caution me to be careful. Such advice is practical, but at my age I’ve learned that even the most cautious and careful people don’t have to look far to be besieged with calamity. The universe is not a fair place.

Love, X

The Tip Of The Dickberg

Cliché Reimagined
Potentially NSFW

Educational Portion Of Post: the unseen portion of an iceberg is called a bummock, while the visible portion is called a hummock. This is true, as preposterous as the words are.

“The tip of the iceberg” denotes that much is unseen, unmeasured, and unobservable.

I came up with a tangent phrase, one which denotes the same arc, except that it refers to some people: the tip of the dickberg. (“Dickberg” is now in my dictionary. 🙂 )

Whether it’s true or not, I think it’s clever.

“Geez, Steve is really a jerk,” Susan said.

“What he just did is the tip of the dickberg,” Susan.

On a meta-level, I would use it to express the fact that if there’s a little smoke, there’s probably a basement filled with fire.

And not the smores kind.

Stay tuned for more insights and lunacy.

Love, X

Imperfect Union. Of Thoughts.

As a middle-aged white guy in the South, I would like to remind everyone that I am not what you see. Most of us aren’t. Most people aren’t even really the idea of them that we hold in our heads. If we have a fundamentally different worldview from someone else, we tend to vilify their beliefs or motives. We have to be on guard about that. It infects everything. There are a lot of evil people in the world, but most of us want the same things. No one likes other people interfering in their lives, yet so many do exactly that. People are surprised to discover how calcified their belief system becomes as they age.

I’m no Chicken Little. Despite the appearance of continuity, we’ve faced a lot of major upheavals as a society. I used my Handmaid’s Tale picture from years ago because it is a go-to symbol of a possible outcome if we don’t get our crap together. I made mine out of humor. It’s easy to see that we need a buttload more humor lately. It’s easy to succumb to cynicism and frustration.

Everyone’s social media is going to be flooded with opinions about social issues. Women who’ve had abortions, especially those who did so for their own reasons and often without others knowing, are going to learn a lot about their peers and loved ones. Some of those women did so for medical reasons or in cases of rape. Most of them didn’t choose abortion lightly. As I grew older and shared my personal life, I can’t tell you how many women told me stories that would shock you.

Most of the vocal celebrants of the supreme court decision are past the age when abortion is a viable concern for them individually. Old wounds will open and new ones will arise as people spew words. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I’m not worried about the next generation finding new ways to fix some of this. Old ideas don’t serve as well as many would like to think.

I have my own abortion story, one that tempers my interpretation of others’ opinions. Many of your friends and family members have them, too; most you’ll never know. Human sexuality is a constant drive, one that leads to consequences and turmoil. If we are going to limit other people’s ability to mitigate the consequences, we have to step up and provide a better social structure to support one another. It’s not about condemnation or judgment.

Women outnumber men.

I’m liberal, speak Spanish, and am in favor of just about every social program that helps people. Even if it reduces the defense budget, even if outliers take advantage – and even if the systems we put into place aren’t perfect. I’d start with universal health care, which, despite its flaws, would cost each of us less than our current system. Knowing that everyone around me could get at least basic health services anytime they are needed is something that seems stupidly right to me. For whatever reason, people disagree with me. My principal argument is that the rest of the modern world agrees with me. And universal health care is cheaper than our current system.

I anticipate a firestorm across the board.

Entropy is at play on a societal level. We are never going to be at a fixed point on any social issue. No matter which side of a particular issue you’re on, no issue is safe from review, even if you’ve achieved a momentary victory. If you galvanize a particular group, the system can be destabilized to such a degree that it no longer serves anyone. These issues are far from settled. They might even permanently rupture the system of government.

Politics is a dirty, specialized, and selfish game. If you play it correctly, you can achieve almost any objective, especially if money is involved.

So, I am a middle-aged white guy.

But I’m not responsible for the prevailing conservatism of my age group or those who look like me. We look alike but definitely don’t think alike. Despite that, we share a lot of the same ambitions, wants, needs, and desires. We have to learn to stay out of each other’s way as much as we can as we pursue our version of the dream. Conservatism in its purest form is sound; the evangelical version of it makes me cringe and shake my head.

So many of our problems result from those who “know” what is best for everyone else. Certainty breeds callousness. I try to think of all the things I once knew and believed, only to discover I was wrong. Which surely means that I’m mistaken about things now.

Railing about politics on social media is a fool’s errand unless you tell it as a personal story, one which reflects your life and who you are. You are not going to change anyone’s mind – nor should that be your goal.

Whichever side you’re on, remember that we are all human beings and got to our beliefs by inconsistent trial-and-error. Adding anger won’t change anything, even if it is justified. Like all of you, I admit that sometimes the burn of anger is a welcome relief, even as it short-circuits my humanity. It almost always makes me lesser.

I know that people are legitimately scared because the abortion ban will allow states to foolishly prevent abortions even in cases where it’s medically recommended, necessary, or a result of involuntary conception. That’s fiendishly diabolical and evil in my opinion. It ignores science and human decency.

No matter what changed, anything can be changed again.

Literally anything. With the right lever and effort.

Look for your lever and try to avoid adding to the woodpile of words. Find a way to convert your anger into action. Anger or fear is an immensely powerful motivator.

I know that being a middle-aged white guy contains a certain privilege of thought. I see that. But I can worry along with the rest of you, the ones who see a weird arc of conservative social ideology creeping into places that have little to do with fiscal policy or public health. Most of us think we have a singular plan and path for everyone else to live by. Imposing it only leads to no one having autonomy or happiness.

Love, X
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Do Not (Be) Disturb(ed)

Neither picture has anything to do with the post. 🙂

Someone surprised me with a SPAM brooch this morning. I quipped that my new official title is now Spambassador.

The other picture is of the moon at 3 a.m., peeping through the silhouette of a dead tree amidst living trees.
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I absolutely LOVE that people with smartphones don’t use their fantastic piece of technology to prevent late-night intrusions with beeps, alarms, and notifications.

Seriously! I get tickled. It’s like someone complaining that their ceiling light keeps them awake. Uh? Turn the light off!

You can sort it so that only specific people can call, text, etc. You can silence and blind all notifications with almost no effort on your phone. That includes vibrations, flashing screens, and phone rings.

You can even use do-not-disturb in such a way that only certain people will ring through or text regardless of the time of day.

Your phone is almost always near you. It only takes a few seconds to set it so that you’re its master as opposed to the converse.

If you don’t know how, a friend, family member, or phone store employee can demonstrate it. Or, you can use the fancy Google.

By using the DND features on your phone, you can still be contacted in case of a true emergency, which is the go-to reply when most people reply, “Oh, I have to be able to be reached if something happens.” It doesn’t even sound reasonable to offer that reply, not with the options available on iPhones and Android. People can still reach you if necessary – it just requires you to learn a little bit about how your phone works instead of using the goofy reply mentioned above.

Everyone works and sleeps on their own schedule. There is no longer a “normal” window. 9 p.m. is late for some. And others are up at 2 a.m. Lord knows that no matter how diligent you are, your apps are going to bink, boink, and sound at all hours no matter how careful you are with notifications.

You shouldn’t growl at someone for texting or causing a notification at 12:44 a.m. You should growl at yourself for not taking a few minutes and learning how to use that incredible piece of technology that’s inseparable from your hand.

If you use do-not-disturb features and your close family member still texts you at 11:30 p.m. to ask you if you use dust-free toilet paper, that’s a boundary issue you need to discuss. Also, that kind of person shouldn’t be involved in an emergency notification. In fact, they usually CAUSE them.

Because I don’t sleep with my phone near me, it’s not an issue for me. I tend to leave my phone on DND very often. For those who’ve had sleep therapy, you already know that keeping screens away from you while you’re getting healthy sleep is mandatory. We did it that way for thousands of years and the world still kept spinning. I am completely pro-technology. Phones aren’t the ruination of the modern world as so many people claim. Rather, WE are the problem. And if you’re one of those knuckleheads who keeps their phone buzzing, flashing, and ringing while you’re trying to sleep, I suggest you try another way. A simple, easy-to-learn, way. It’s built right into modern phones.

No, there’s no taser feature on them yet, because someone will hack yours and administer a shock when you’re talking to your mother-in-law about the niceties of mulch.

It’s common for people to grouch about phones. No one forces you to use them inappropriately, as in social gatherings. Likewise, you can easily learn to use the features baked into all modern phones, the ones that allow you not to be interrupted when you’re in a social gathering – or trying to sleep.

As for me, I assume that everyone uses the technology on their phones. So, if I message, text, post, or hit like at 3:37 a.m., I’m not going to be the least bit concerned if you say something like, “Your beep woke me up.” You can fix that. The first option is to pretend I’m dead to you. The second more reasonable option is to take a few minutes so that my interactions don’t bother you when you don’t want them to.

Not directly related to the above: everyone basically hates it when someone is using their phone as an entertainment device while they are supposed to be enjoying one another’s company. Focus on your activity and the people you’re with. You’re sending the unintentional (or perhaps intentional) message that their presence is less interesting than your phone. Put it face down, turn it off, or do whatever you must do if you’re with people. And, of course, turn the ringer off.

Grouch away, mofos.

Just saying…

Love, X
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They Are High And Happy

They Are High And Happy

I craved a diet soda. More accurately, I wanted the pound of small crushed ice that would accompany it. Entering the inconvenience store, I noted that the bananas did not look like they’d been there for six weeks, so I grabbed one. The clerk, one I’ve spoken to before, is one I think of as “Mr. Mumbles” in my head. He sounds like my dad talking after drinking a bottle of Old Charter.

“It’s crackhead central here,” he said, pointing to the multiple people crowded around the ‘entertainment’ row of casino-like machines nestled in a line in the front. These machines cause a lot of consternation for people. Some stores have run into trouble legally because of the way they are actually used versus how they supposedly work. In Monroe years ago, a small store where my mom lived made a fortune using them illegally as casino substitutes. It’s easy to do. I’m not saying this particular store operates that way. I’ll leave my observations aside. People are going to gamble and stores will find a way to provide an outlet. Vice invariably equals profit.

“I wondered why it was so busy in the parking lot,” I replied. (When I drove up, there was an inordinate number of vehicles even for 1:30 a.m. A couple of them looked like the ‘after’ picture from an insurance claim.)

“They got their government money. So, they are going to spend it. They’re high and they’re happy.” He didn’t say it out of spite, although he did go on to add a few comments. His opinions were based on his experiences, so it’s a fine line calling him out.

I didn’t know how to appropriately reply because it wasn’t in me to judge them. Or him, for saying what obviously was true. “I’m glad to have a job,” I told him. He mumbled something I couldn’t possibly understand. I nodded. I left him there, as he kept a careful eye on the various people inside the store.

As for drugs, a river of drugs runs through Fayetteville. Most places are like that, even if you don’t see the river flowing. There are people you know who use them, people who would surprise you. I can literally go next door if I were inclined and buy a pharmacy of them. If people behave, I don’t care what they do. They are going to do it anyway.

For the people who swim in that river, I don’t despise them. I’m glad I don’t.

If they are indeed high, I do hope they are happy.

I’ll take my half-dose of Lexapro and drink my cup of coffee now, as well as eat the banana I bought. Even though a couple of hours have elapsed since I saw the clerk, I know he is still eyeing the patrons of his store, waiting for the inevitable brouhaha that always erupts. My laundry is about done drying. It’s interesting going down to the laundry dungeon so early. I put it in to wash and took a walk, owning the quiet streets, my ears filled with joyous music to propel my steps.

Love, X

Sunday Notes From The Early Hours

I stopped and stood next to the pond near the golf course. In front of me, a huge turtle, one with a 24″ diameter, soaked up the intermittent sun. Beyond the pond, two golfers were stopped on their golf cart. They both jumped off. The first one spent a few seconds pantomiming the swing of an experienced golfer. He then took his swing. The ball bounced about a foot in front of him and died. I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing. How the golfer heard my guffaw above the sound of the fountain in the center of the pond is a mystery. He angrily turned toward me and shouted, “F—- off!” I laughed even harder. His partner burst out laughing as well. I couldn’t help myself. I shouted back, “You can’t even hit a little ball in front of you so I’m not worried about you trying to hit me, either!” At this point, his partner doubled over with his hands on his knees, laughing, even as the foiled golfer went through a series of angry faces. I waved goodbye. I took a look back at the chalk work I’d completed in a long stretch across the sidewalk. I’d written a hilarious truth there, in large, scrawling letters. I wanted to add, “Pick another sport,” but I laughed instead.

I discovered again why I shouldn’t cut my own hair. (Or anyone else’s, for that matter.) As careful as I thought I had been, the back of my head looks like I engaged in a wrestling match with a wolverine. I kind of like it.

I was outside painting by 1:30 this morning. My neighbors love the smell of paint at all hours. It combines well with the aroma of marijuana. I should market a scent with both infused into the spray. It’s interesting to observe the activity that normally goes unobserved at that hour. Yesterday morning I watched as a sedan pulled up to the dumpster and miraculously removed an insane number of pieces of furniture from the interior and dumped them illegally. Later, I went out armed with tools and deconstructed all the pieces, and threw them in the dumpster. I couldn’t believe all of it somehow emerged from that mid-size car. About 3 a.m. this morning, a vehicle ran the red light across the street and stopped before accidentally driving into the vacant lot that is currently under construction. Whoever was driving sat there for at least fifteen seconds. I assume they were unclenching their buttcheeks, given they were probably drunk and definitely inattentive. At 4:27, I came back up the stairs, returning from the fence where I’d installed a dozen more tiles. A large rat ran from the corner, along the railing, past my feet, and then took the stairs like a track athlete. I was going to give him a hug but he seemed to be dreadfully afraid of me. Why he ran toward and around me is a mystery.

Luckily, Güino wasn’t outside or he would have lost his mind trying to give that rat a hug. He doesn’t know any better. He’s happy, though. He just finished drinking some horrid cat food juice when I snapped this picture.

I leave my long kitchen window uncovered. I don’t worry about break-ins. I think the dozens of heavy rocks on my landing provide ample means for entry if they’re interested enough. I do have decoy keys hanging right by the door. It tickles me to imagine some would-be intruder standing there trying the keys in plain sight. I’m hoping the LED lights I leave oscillating confuse both neighbors and drivers along Gregg.

It’s been windy this morning and in the low-70s. You might not believe how great it feels out there!

Love, X
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Relationships With Men

A friend said something to me recently that made me promise to compile a list of dating and/or relationship advice for her. I give you my guarantee that you will find something in here to love and laugh at. It’s not finished. Yes, I’m a hypocrite.

If you’re older, you’re in a quandary. Any man you find is going to have a history. If he’s been alone for a long time, he’s telling you he either is very happy staying that way or he’s been traumatized by the process. Either one will wear you out if you’re with him. The other alternative is that he’s been with a lot of women without commitment. That brings its own issues. People are meant to be with people, no matter how much we piss each other off and disappoint one another. “I don’t need someone” is a yellow flag.

“Sex is like the playground. Intimacy is foremost. But you shouldn’t expect each other to sit on the bench at the playground. The equipment is there for enjoyment.” – X

That tingly feeling, or butterflies you feel? That’s your common sense fleeing your body.

Find a man who looks at you like a piece of cake or his favorite beer.

Don’t expect a man who’ll ask if you want something to drink. Find a man who will know what you like and bring it to you without asking.

Find a man who doesn’t hesitate to give you reassurance. It’s not needy. It’s normal. In my opinion, anyone who balks at doing so doesn’t have the empathy required to love deeply.

If you’re interested in someone, tell them. As soon as you can muster the courage. No man worth having will worry about not being the one to initiate.

In the initial stages, if you find yourself waiting on him to call or text, shout “Next!” He’s either playing games or letting you know he does indeed have connection issues with you.

Men find the time if they are blazing for you. They call. They text. They make plans and keep them. Anything else is at least a yellow flag. Don’t accept less. “Next!”

If your potential partner kisses you with firm, hard lips, he’s no good. You think I’m crazy? Think about it. That includes pecking.

Do your best to not chase someone who seems to be reluctant. It’s hard, I know. It’s an adult response to tell them, “I feel like I’m chasing you and I don’t do that if I can help it. It’s time to move on.”

“I’m not looking for a relationship” versus “I’m not ready for a relationship.” Those are two vastly different sentiments. The latter should be a warning to you. They are hedging their bets. That reluctance will translate into problems for you if you don’t know the difference.

“I’m not interested in being spoken to like that” is one of the most powerful things a woman can practice saying and learn to say. A man who likes you will listen. A man who will use you will be defensive and threatening.

Enthusiasm is a great predictor. Are they excited to see you? About life? About having to unload the dishwasher? No one with a lackluster attitude makes a good partner. This is doubly true if you’re generally outgoing and optimistic. They’ll make you feel stupid for being energetic.

If your partner puts in a lot of effort, make sure you do the same. Unequal partnerships tend to fail. If your man isn’t showing effort and patience, he’s not the one for you long-term.

Don’t be with someone who hides their feelings, even if they are otherwise good or good-looking. They are hiding more than their feelings. You’ll be trying to fix this forever.

Expectations are not standards. Expecting a potential partner to behave a certain way is almost impossible. But standards regarding any behavior are yours alone to determine. These standards translate as boundaries. Know what they are before you start dating. And communicate them as directly as you can. If he screams in anger in the early stages (much less threatens physical harm or actually doing it), he’s going to do much worse after you’re invested in him.

Find a man who knows that the bathroom is yours and he has just enough space for his five items. A man who has more than deodorant, a razor, soap, and the cologne you like is too metro to put up with. Yes, that’s only four things. YOU get to pick the fifth item. Fight me if I’m wrong.

Likewise, having two bathrooms will save a lot of relationships. But most of the second one is still yours, too, even if you want to put up horrid guest towels and decorative soaps.

If someone gives you the silent treatment early in a relationship, it will only worsen later. Communication will diminish to the point where anger builds a nest around your heart.

Most men know what “catch and release” means. Remind them of that if they aren’t the one for you. The longer they are out of the water, the worse it is for you both.

“Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.” – Joan Crawford If you can’t open your heart fully, it doesn’t matter what the intentions are of the person you’re with. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has been burned by love. But it’s essential to living a full life. It doesn’t have to be romantic love, but we are wired psychologically and emotionally for one component of it to be that kind of love.

Men don’t like pillows all over the bed and couch. Learn to laugh about it.

Don’t be an option for anyone, no matter how many butterflies are swimming inside you.

“Ask a man the best book he’s read since high school. It doesn’t matter so much WHAT the answer is. How long it takes him to respond or how he answers will tell you all you need to know about how elastic his mind is.” – X

“If a man watches SportsCenter an hour a day while you’re dating, he’s gonna watch five hours a day after you are.” – X This is gospel. If you’re okay with that, that’s cool. If not, get another man.

Never date a man who won’t drink after you – or let you drink out of his. A corollary to this is that you should take it as a red flag if he legitimately objects to you eating off his plate.

“Love, at first sight, is possible, but it pays to take a second look.”

Unknown

A red flag for a man is if he keeps his truck or car detailed. Men who love moments don’t worry about the aesthetics of their vehicle. There are very few exceptions to this. His car should be cluttered – just like yours.

Keep in mind the Rhianna joke: unless you are her, tell your man that you are not going to love the way he lies.

In any relationship, make sure that you are the crazy one. It will save you a lot of tears. And unless you’re an onion, that will wear you down.

“Once someone told me: ‘Put your finger in your partner’s nose. If it disgusts you, it means you’re not in love.’” – The Internet

Treat a man like a magazine subscription. Get a few months of issues in your life before you pay for it.

If you’re older, it is safe to date a man who isn’t great-looking. No risk of passing on his ugly genes because you’ve already had your kids. You can love a man with a sense of humor and just turn off the lights. It’s easier than being with someone super attractive.

Being wanted while wearing a bikini is easy. After six months, your man should love seeing you in a t-shirt and with your hair messy. And if your hair isn’t a mess afterward, he is not the right one.

Lingerie is highly over-rated. It might be a component of his fantasy life, but he will be just as lit up by your enthusiasm and Royals t-shirt as he is by crazy, frilly underwear.

Never be with a man who is afraid of therapy, or looks down on those who need or want it.

If a man wants to be honest with you, even if it’s painful, see it as a gesture of love. If he didn’t want to be with you, he would do like most people do and just leave, to avoid potential conflict or discomfort. Staying and saying the hard things is a nugget of pure gold.

“Honesty is the key to a relationship. If you can fake that, you’re in.” — Richard Jeni

When a man tells you that you are beautiful, believe him. Likewise, he needs to be able to say that yes, your butt does look big in those jeans or that your favorite shirt reminds him of a jailbreak. You’ll know by the way he touches you that you light him up.

“The ideal husband understands every word his wife doesn’t say.” — Alfred Hitchcock

“Love is telling someone their hair extensions are showing.” – Natasha Leggero

If you both don’t have a lot of laughs, you can’t be happy. Yes, it is that simple.

Don’t fight about the color of the couch. Fight about who gets the last bite of ice cream. And always offer it to one another.

Always choose a man who wants you to be pleased first. It’s one of the biggest red flags. Yes, in bed. And everywhere else. If both of you have this attitude, it’s hard to ruin.

The clever way to express the above paragraph is this: “Nice guys finish last.”

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” – Oscar Wilde

Trust your instincts if you feel this way!

If you haven’t wanted to use a skillet on him at least a dozen times, it means you’re not experiencing the depth of love characterized by depth of feeling. It also means that you’re avoiding conflict. Anyone worth having will have habits that drive you nuts. But it will also keep your life interesting.

“Only time can heal your broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs.” — Miss Piggy

“Always kiss after an argument. Even if you tell him to kiss your ass.” – X

You cannot be happy with a person who doesn’t text you back, or comfortably say “I love you” when you do. There are exceptions, but someone who can’t say “I love you” when the fire is burning hot will piss you off exponentially later.

“I don’t dance” is a red flag. Even if they look stupid, they will dance with you in the living room.

If your man doesn’t randomly reach out to touch you, hug you unexpectedly, or want to sit with you, even if it’s intolerably warm in the room, he needs to be left outside.

If your relationship is healthy, no man will ever utter the words, “This is how I am. Take it or leave it.” Leave it and find someone willing to change and adapt.

He should show you appreciation each day, even if only to acknowledge that you haven’t kicked him in the shins. Because he’s certainly done or said something stupid. Little things matter just as much as the big things.

Quality time matters. But so does incremental time. A good man will seek connections that are quick, too. They will share moments or interesting things. If they don’t, although you would be reluctant to trust me, it means that he doesn’t love you creatively or intimately. “Strong and silent” always ends up, “Strong and gone.”

A good man will be afraid for you to meet some of his family. Because some of them are crazy and don’t want him to be happy. He will take you anyway, trusting you to respond with humor when the lunacy starts. Even when Uncle Steve hugs you in a weird way.

Never be with a man who hesitates to tell anyone that you are together. There is almost no exception to this rule. If you ignore it, you’re in for trouble. It’s possible for him to be going through a divorce or separation that necessitates VERY temporary privacy. Everything else is a large waving red flag if he wants to limit who knows about you. It’s toxic and if you acquiesce to it, you’re asking for trauma and heartache.

Ask for a man’s credit report. If it’s bad, he will still gladly show you.

If your man has one DWI, he might be worth it. If he has two, throw him back to the sorting pile. And if his mother answers to the name “Butch,” pick again.

Ask your potential man, “Tell me a story where you did an ex dirty or behaved badly.” All men have at least one such story. If he won’t or can’t, he’s misbehaved a lot and you’ll be next.

“Do what you did at the beginning of the relationship and there won’t be an end.” – Anthony Robbins

Never date anyone who has nothing positive to say about any of his exes. If they are all bad in his mind, either he has poor decision-making ability, or he is the bad one.

Likewise, if he is really close with one or all his exes, be very cautious. Good partners can be friendly with exes, but it should be extremely transparent and you should be welcome to have a voice and presence in these arrangements. If you don’t both agree and have the same expectations, find another man before investing a lot of time with him.

Every relationship is work sometimes. But clock in and grab his butt. Light-hearted intimacy is a glorious indicator of both interest and enthusiasm. Just because it requires work doesn’t mean it doesn’t pay well.

What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door. If you smile, another man will knock. Trust me.

From Beth on Yellowstone: “Because you have all the p****, and half the money…”

“Men with pierced ears are good. They already experienced pain and have experience buying jewelry.” – The Internet

The joke in today’s world: you can touch each other, but not each other’s phones. Keep that in mind.

The Phone Enthusiasm Rule: if your potential man is sitting on the couch tired and his phone rings… if his level of energy jumps and he suddenly starts sharing with whoever is on the other end, it’s a signal he’s not engaged with your conversationally and probably emotionally. This is a generalization. But it’s exactly like watching a co-worker greet everyone else with a bright smile and energy while mumbling “hey” to you. There’s a reason for that and over time it becomes almost subconscious for them.

If a man is really into you, you won’t have to beg for texts, phone calls, or time. He already has shifted his life to make time. That some men can do so means that most men can. They just don’t want to. Find another man.

If a man tells you that you’re asking too much, you are asking the wrong person. Don’t dampen your energy, your laughter, or your need for intimacy. For any man. Emotionally unavailable men easily convince women that they are unreasonable.

If you feel like you have to chase a man for attention, time, or energy, get another man before you’re too far down the road. It is easy to fall in love despite that feeling.

“You wouldn’t know love if it kicked you in the fangs.” — Lorena (True Blood Season 7, 2010)

“You can of course find someone special using online dating. But you can also use YouTube to teach yourself how to take out a kidney.” – X

Relationships fail when the boat has too many passengers. Your canoe should hold two tightly and three if one of them is in the water. Keep your partner in your mind and close. Leave everyone else outside the boat but in your life.

You can’t be happy with someone who won’t provide you with the physical intimacy you crave. If you outmatch them, they will be threatened. And if they outmatch you, you will wonder where they learned it. Remember that it doesn’t matter how they got there, it only matters where they end up.

Ask and you shall receive. And if you don’t, ask it of another. Seriously. You know what you like and what you love. Ask twice if necessary, but never a third time.

True love is halitosis and still kissing.

Love is unconditional. Relationships have boundaries. It’s hard to keep that in mind and separate them. Almost impossible.

The Kink Rule: if there are sexual things you enjoy that your potential partner doesn’t like, it greatly decreases the odds you will be happy long-term. It’s one of the reasons it is better to scare him off as soon as possible if he’s not compatible. The same holds true for him.

You need to openly talk about sexual rejection before you fall in love. These expectations erode relationships when each person has different reactions to it. Talk as candidly as you can. Your sexual energy will decline eventually. Your intimacy doesn’t have to. You need to be prepared.

Your partner should be the one who hears about your ups and downs first. If you don’t do this, over time your connection will erode. Find someone who actively wants to hear about yours – and share theirs, too.

Don’t romanticize who a person could be or their potential. Start a relationship with the idea that they’ll probably BE that person.

Unless you’re a handyman or handywoman, don’t plan on fixing anyone.

If you love someone and you are both happy, your relationship doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. Stop letting prevailing notions affect your partnership. It’s all between you and all the shoulds disappear if you’re both happy and satisfied. No matter what it looks like to others.

Telling someone how you feel can’t ruin a good relationship long-term. If you are afraid to share with your partner, it is hard to blame them when they are reacting to a version of you. It’s a popular cliché to say that talking about your feelings should never lead to an argument. If it does, that dynamic is waving a red flag to you both.

Note whether someone “can’t” with you, but “can” with others.

If a man drinks or uses drugs often (and especially so when you don’t), it greatly increases the likelihood of disengagement and unacceptable words and behavior. There are exceptions – but not enough to warrant a serious look.

A good man will say nice things to you and about you. If they stop, the honeymoon is over. If a man noticeably stops complimenting you, you’re in trouble. Likewise, if he’s overly critical of you or begins to swap compliments for criticisms, it’s time to talk.

A good partner shouldn’t have trouble regulating his emotions. There’s a fine line between passionate and batsh!t crazy.

A good rule of thumb: the hotter a man is, the harder it is for you to be rational. Our biology is the culprit. I’m not recommending that you find an ugly man, but if you’re with someone who is eye candy, remember what too much sugar does to you. You’ll put up with a lot of crap from someone who is better-looking.

Avoid men who criticize instead of complaining. It’s a subtle difference and hard for most people to put their fingers on. There is a difference and one will wear you down emotionally.

Find out whether your potential partner has different ideas about what ‘tidy’ and ‘clean’ mean. You’re going to argue in the long-term if your man isn’t as ‘tidy’ as you are. 9 out of 10 times it’s the woman maintaining your place, fair or not. Also, don’t let a man avoid doing his share of the chores, housework, or cleanup. Even when dating.

As comedian Simon Taylor said: “Ahh, Tinder. The crystal meth of online dating.”

If you think you’re in love with someone but it’s draining you, you need to listen to the voice in your head and how much loneliness or feelings of unworthiness are keeping you from finding someone who listens to you and lights you up.

I don’t remember who said it, but these are wise words of dating advice:

Don’t. If you do, be careful. Lastly, you’re going to do it anyway because chemistry and biology inevitably drive you bonkers if you don’t.

If you are independent and stable, red flags aren’t warnings: they are deal-breakers. You need to decide what those might be before falling in love.

You are not selfish for wanting the same love and enthusiasm you give to your partner to be returned in equal measure. If you feel like you are, you need to look hard at your relationship expectations.

If they give you distance when you need love, find another man. Life is short and the primary purpose of a partner is love and companionship.

“Someday you’ll meet someone amazing who just gets you. And they won’t want to date you either.” – The Internet.

Be who you are so that you don’t have to worry about slipping up or being inauthentic. The man you’re interested in is going to find out anyway.

Whether you think so or not, most men are intimidated by you.

Everything is negotiation. If he won’t, move on. If he pushes you too far past your comfort zone, examine it closely.

The Magician’s Observation: you’ll look at him like everyone else has disappeared.

An easy way to learn a lot about your potential man is to fold your arm around him in public when you start dating. Or reach for his hand to hold. If he is reluctant in the first stages, he’s going to be a royal pain in the ass long-term. There are no exceptions to this except in cases where a man has no hands or arms. If he shows reluctance around certain people or friends, he’s hiding something.

The Friendship Reciprocity Rule: it’s okay for your man (or you) to have friends of the opposite sex. But… the only way it will work is if you’re always welcome to be friends with them, too, and be with them comfortably. I learned and earned this one the hard way. Each case is different. But if he has female friends you don’t know, can’t communicate with, or anything less than transparency, run. If he’s flirting with his female friends, sexting, or anything across your boundaries, he’s keeping his options open or using the attention. Whether it’s harmless to him or not, if it bothers you, it is not harmless to you.

Most people are “independent” until about 11 p.m. at night. It’s an old joke. It’s true, though. Take note of how your interactions spike and at what hours of the day. If a potential partner puts you mostly on hold until sundown, it generally is a bad sign.

It’s also a bad sign if he won’t commit to making plans short-term. Trust me, he’s making plans with someone. Most people, with some exceptions, have their phones on them most of the time. “I’ll let you know by 5 p.m.” is a hell of a lot better than silence or something vague. Ten seconds is all it takes to send a quick reply or emoji. They can’t be playing Diamond Crush all day.

The Four Horsemen, as they are called: contempt, criticism, stonewalling (or withdrawal), and defensiveness. Especially when arguing. It’s not about WHAT you fight about, it’s how. Any of the four will kill your chances. Pay attention.

Although I touched on it earlier, if your man generally has a low opinion of all women through his comments (not just his exes), run. Most people of both sexes are generally good people and want to be happy. Anyone focusing on their experiences to justify statements such as “all women are _______” has larger issues that you’ll have to endure.

Most men don’t care if your nails are done. Most don’t even notice them. Men also don’t care if your legs are perfectly shaved, either. In fact, I personally believe that ones who do are prone to being a&&holes.

When someone is pissed off, you are not speaking to the person, you are speaking to the mood. Learn early if they need a little space or prefer to argue without using it as an excuse to be mean-spirited.

A good man will want to share his tastes in music with you. But he’ll be equally fascinated to know yours, too. If he’s selfish about it, take it as a larger sign.

When you first get to know a man, use these questions: “What kind of washing detergent do you prefer?” “Does your vacuum cleaner use bags or is it bagless?” “How do you like to cook your vegetables?” They seem innocuous but convey a lot more information than you’d think. Pay attention.

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The above list is not all-inclusive, nor universally applicable.

Love, X

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Traversing The Road

Starting with a laugh… as I walked West Miller Street close to my apartment, I watched a greyish blue Chevy Traverse round the deceptively sharp curve to approach me. It was speeding of course. I walked along the right-hand side of the street on the grass. As the vehicle approached, I observed the older woman driving and notice the approaching speed bump. It’s not high profile. Had she simply driven over it, there would have been no laugh. Instead, she braked hard to avoid going over it at 35+ mph. The younger woman in the passenger seat didn’t appear to be wearing a seatbelt. She was turned sideways in the seat, drinking a presumptive soda through her straw. As the driver braked, the passenger went forward unexpectedly. I couldn’t quite see it when it happened, but she squeezed her styrofoam cup as she was jerked forward. The passenger bounced off the dashboard. Weirdly, both the driver and the passenger looked at me simultaneously as I walked and laughed. The passenger started pantomiming her displeasure toward the driver. She wildly pointed down and across her lap. I assume she was baptized in soda. I shrugged my shoulders when the driver looked at me again, having come to a full stop a couple of feet past the speed bump. When I looked back at the vehicle a few seconds later to note the make and model, I laughed again at the fact that it was wrongly named the “Traverse.” It certainly didn’t this afternoon.

Now I want to add another speed bump on top of the authorized one and watch as speeders coming from Woodland school hit it without warning. I could give it the name “Speed Wall” instead of a speed bump.

When I exited the convenience store a few minutes later, I drank my diet soda and crushed ice with enthusiasm. A nun dressed in all white entered as I held the door open for her. One of the regulars who is also quite the scam storyteller asked me if I wanted to buy some weed. With a very serious face, I said, “Yes. I need five pounds of it if you have it.” The look on his face was priceless. “Five pounds? How long will that last you?” Not missing a beat, I replied, “Oh, I’d say about nine or ten days. Can you hook me up?” He shook his head, still not realizing I was joking. “No, I can’t get anywhere near that amount!” I told him I was very disappointed in his inventory problem. I walked away, shaking my head, pretending to be concerned. I didn’t look back. I didn’t dare. There is no way I would have been able to avoid laughing.

At the intersection with Onyx Coffee, I watched as drivers carelessly drove across the crosswalk and ignored the road markings. Because I was feeling clever, I crouched down and pointed my fingers on the concrete, pretending I was a sprinter about to take off across the crosswalk. My eyes were focused on the red indicator across the street. As I did so, a white Chevy pickup pulled all the way across the crosswalk in front of me and stopped. His intention was to make a right turn, even if he had to block pedestrians to do so. I walked in front of his vehicle. Instead of pointing at the crosswalk or the sign across the street, I instead pointed at the grill of his truck. “Oh my god!” I said. And kept pointing. “You need to see this,” I told him, continuing to point. He put his truck in park and exited his truck to see what I was gesticulating toward on the front of his truck. As he did, I walked across the street and kept going. I didn’t look back that time, either. I wondered if he might get angry and return to curse at me. He’d have to make at least TWO more turns to head back in my direction, though.

When I walked two streets past my apartment, I watched a man climb inside the dumpster on the corner. He was having trouble, so I told him to use the truck fork holes as steps. He must have been a newbie to the dumpster scene. I didn’t talk to him long, but it turns out he has a decent job in the evening. He’s been scavenging and reworking furniture and different items. His truck was parked several feet away in the apartment parking lot. He also told me something interesting: that he often found construction workers’ beer in there. They often use it to hide their alcohol while they’re on the job site. He told me that last week he found a bicycle that required only a few dollars of parts – and that he sold it for $100. I wished him luck and told him that he should take a look in the dumpster at my apartment on Sunday afternoon. He thanked me.

I didn’t see another Traverse as I crossed the speed bump again.

X
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A Lot Of Walking

I hit 10,000 steps by 6:00 a.m. One of my Fitbit competitors had to walk about 25 miles to catch up late last night.

Someone accused me of feeling superior for having lost a hundred pounds. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t be or become who they’re supposed to be. I admit I was very evangelical about my approach to weight loss. In part, because I did every bit of it only by changing my diet. Almost anything can be accomplished if you commit to increments and keep the promise to yourself that you’re going to do better. Part of the conundrum of life is that when you excel in one area, you tend to let other areas deteriorate. Each of us has limited time and focus and it is so easy to let the grind of the day distract us.

If I can ever figure out a way to channel my obsessive commitment to anything I set my mind to, I imagine that I will drive people crazy.

On second thought, I probably do that already. It is so easy to let criticism from people that don’t have you or your best interests in mind get in your head. Mine is too crowded to do more than give such criticism a passing inspection.

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